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Proposed Studies

Though little has been done to date, researchers can tackle many of the questions involving the relationship between emotion and film scores. The following studies are initial attempts to fit emotion and music into an experimental paradigm.

They are brief methodological sketches designed to give the reader an idea of how to go about studying some of the more general assumptions made regarding film scores.

The main approaches to measuring emotions in laboratory experiments include subjects' self-ratings, physiological measurements, and observational assessments. In self-ratings, subjects rate such measures as how pleasant a stimulus is and how aroused they feel on quantitative scales (for example from 1-9, 5 being neutral).

According to Albert Mehrabian and Warren Wixen, "[c]ombinations of various levels of pleasure, arousal, and dominance are necessary and sufficient to describe any emotional state" (Mehrabian, 1986).

Thus, subjects' self-reports must contain these scales at a minimum. In physiological measurements, subjects are hooked up to various machines possibly recording EMG (electric activity in a skeletal muscle), EEG (electric potential produced by brain cells), temperature, heart rate, blood volume pulse, skin conductance, respiration, and serotonin levels (among other vasoconstrictors). Observational assessments include recording facial expressions and body position.

In some cases, the stimulus needs to be edited, dubbed, or altered (when different music is substituted for the original music on a videotape). If no editing services are available, it is possible to play the music separately on a cassette player as the video is running, but this crude measure should only be taken if absolutely necessary.

If this is done, care should be taken to record the original music on the cassette player as well, instead of playing it as part of the videotape. Thus, the sound quality will remain consistent across groups.

The emotion assessments will differ based on the scope of the study and available resources and funding. Depending on the resources of the lab implementing these studies, the studies may take advantage of sophisticated physiological measurements, incorporate body movement coding (including videotaping the subjects), use simple subject self-rating scales, or any combination of the above.

At a bare minimum, no special equipment is needed; emotions can be assessed by subject self-report.

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